Hope area residents are invited out for an evening of free music, food and fellowship Thursday when Sons of I Am take the stage at 6 p.m. as part of a weekly music series at The Shelter, located at 5060 W. County Road 600 N, in Scipio.

“We are going to do some originals, hymnals and contemporary Christian music,” says Art Dayton, lead singer for Sons of I Am. “It’ll be a mix.”

The Sons of I Am are no strangers to this popular outdoor music series as they played it last year, Dayton adds.

“They do this every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.,” Dayton says. “They give out free food and there’s music. They take up a love offering for food donations and they usually throw a little bucket up onstage if anyone wants to give the band donations.”

The music series, which runs now through October, is an extension of the church community, says Reverend Sarah Campbell, with the Scipio United Methodist Church. Everyone is welcome to the event, regardless of their church affiliation, she adds.

“Most of the people who come are not members of the church and I think that is fantastic,” Campbell says. “It’s always an open door and there’s always an open seat for people to come on Sunday mornings.”

The typical set-up for the popular Thursday evening event is not an altar-call situation, where individuals come forward and make a public, spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ, Campbell explains, but rather more of an opportunity to tune in, listen and receive the message.

For those who have not had the opportunity to hear Sons of I Am, Campbell describes their music as songs you can sing along with, as well as songs that may just inspire you to simply reflect.

“They’re certainly upbeat and fun,” she adds. “Definitely a band you won’t want to miss.”

The music series debuted around five years ago as part of the vision of a former pastor who felt a call to strengthen the church’s outreach, Campbell says.

“It just started with his vision of a different way to reach out to the community,” Campbell says. “There’s a short message given by the band or pastor, typically.”

During last year’s season, Campbell says she spoke on the Parables. Thursday evening, Campbell plans to speak about how “We are called to do the hard work of sharing God’s love,” she says.

She says that those with little ones need not worry as there is plenty for the kiddos to do that evening. There are two accessible playgrounds on site designed for different age groups, Campbell adds.

“I also typically bring bubbles and sidewalk chalk for the kids,” she says. “It’s a great way to spend a Thursday evening.”

As always, in the event of excessive heat or inclement weather the event is subject to either being moved indoors or cancelled altogether. Those planning to attend are encouraged to keep an eye on social media via The Shelter or Sons of I Am for potential updates.

Both the band and Campbell are looking forward not only to an evening of food and fun, but also seeing new and familiar faces.

“If they have a church home, that is fabulous,” Campbell says. “If they don’t, they’re getting a message of God loves them, this church loves them and they are always welcome here.”